Improving sustainability performance through supplier relationship management in the tobacco industry

Ayotunde Adesanya, Biao Yang, Farok Wanes Bin Iqdara, Ying Yang

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    Purpose – The purpose of this study is to explore how tobacco manufacturing companies can improve their sustainability performance via effective supplier relationship management (SRM).

    Design/methodology/approach – This study has adopted a single case study of an international tobacco company. The primary data involved semi-structured interviews with participants from the case company who are familiar with sustainable SRM in the tobacco industry and are engaging in various techniques to improve sustainability performance.

    Findings – The drivers for sustainable SRM commonly identified in literature are observable within the case company. There is also clear evidence of integrating sustainability in its SRM processes. However, the perception of sustainability as a requirement to meet stringent regulations limits its scope and drive in pursuing sustainable SRM. It has also limited supplier sustainability evaluation and performance metrics. Furthermore, our findings reinforce the importance of a procurement team’s ability to work with other functional teams in implementing sustainable SRM. The findings also contribute to the emerging literature on the impact of sustainability on supplier segmentation and multi-tier supplier management.

    Research Limitations/Implications – This study provides insight into the varying SRM methods used in the tobacco industry to ensure compliance and improve sustainability performance. However, further research is required to explore the generalisability of our findings derived from a single case study.

    Originality/Value – The tobacco industry is an under-researched industry, particularly in terms of sustainable operations and supply chain management practices. Our findings seem to be relevant to those comparable industries with stringent regulations as well.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages14
    JournalSupply Chain Management: An International Journal
    Early online date23 Mar 2020
    Publication statusEarly online - 23 Mar 2020


    • Sustainability
    • supplier relationship management
    • sustainability risk management
    • tobacco industry


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